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Futurists in Barcelona: ‘mes que un buzzword’

7 November 2018

Group Managing Director Levon Antonian sends his second day summary from Gartner’s ITXPO in Barcelona. After a thought-provoking start to the symposium, Tuesday delivered more glimpses of the near future especially with a keynote on Gartner’s top technology predictions for the next five years, and what this means for us all.

The golden nugget presentation today was from Gartner’s Daryl Palmer. He laid out their tech predictions for the next five years – with the caveat that typically Gartner only gets it right 80% of the time! What will these years bring? Advances in blockchain, data security, cloud adoptions and AI are taken as read – but what form will this take? More specifically, what is the real-world impact of technology change on business and consumers? Here are some predictions that stuck with me:

By 2023 (five years away)

  • There will be an 80% reduction in missing people in mature markets due to AI facial recognition
  • Emergency department visits will be reduced by 20 million thanks to AI-enhanced virtual care for chronically ill patients
  • 1 in 4 companies will require employees to sign an affidavit to avoid cyberbullying (and most of these initiatives will fail)
  • A big spike in the number of workplace harassment lawsuits, yet simultaneously large enterprises increasingly becoming recognised as inclusive workplaces through identification of the financial importance of diversity and engagement behaviours.
  • Reducing the use of cookies due to ePrivacy legislation will cripple online advertising revenues resulting in consumer price increases.
  • Security breaches will have zero lasting consumer impact – it seems we are all social media junkies now.

‘Privacy poisoning’ – the risk of blockchain in a GDPR world

For many businesses looking to adopt and implement blockchain technology, it was striking, not to say a little worrying, to see one of Gartner’s predictions was that three quarters of blockchain projects will expose organisations to GDPR violations due to insufficient privacy controls. That’s not even by 2023, but by 2021. Clearly an area where providers and users need to be ultra-vigilant. A blockchain being made entirely non-compliant by the insertion at one point of some personal data could clearly have serious ramifications, with culture and privacy connected like never before.

Don’t panic

With apologies to students of Douglas Adams and entropy, order always seems to arise from chaos in the technology space. I believe we’re well on the way for IT being moved from a cost-cutting to revenue-generating role within organisations of all sizes. A few days in Barcelona, however, have made it clear that the road for digital projects to become digital products and markets to consolidate into a new norm is far from smooth. Yet the best way forward seems to be to embrace inclusivity and diversity, champion ethical use of developing technologies, and prioritise privacy. There are clearly fantastic opportunities amongst the pitfalls – it’s just a question of perspective: one man’s chaos is another man’s opportunity.